Soonia Rahul
Sonia Gandhi, mother of Congress President Rahul Gandhi at AICC headquarters handed over party's reins to her son on Saturday, December 16Twitter

Sonia Gandhi handed over the Congress leadership to her son Rahul Gandhi on Saturday, December 16 at the All India Congress Committee headquarters in New Delhi. Rahul Gandhi is the fifth member of the Gandhi family to lead the Congress.

Ms Gandhi who has been the acting Congress President for 19 years addressed the party workers as she took over the podium to congratulate the newly anointed party chief and her son.

An overwhelmed Sonia Gandhi said, "Before I begin my address, I would like to congratulate and bless Rahul Ji for taking charge as Congress President."

In her last speech as the party President, she remembered Rajiv Gandhi and Indira Gandhi as her strengths and said, "Indira ji passed away, after which Rajiv ji also passed away. My support was taken away from me and it took me a long while to come to terms with it."

Ms Gandhi was referring to her political career as she said, "When I felt the party is becoming weak, that the country is falling into the hands of communal forces, I had to listen to the demands of political workers. To honour the sacrifices of Indira and Rajiv, I entered politics."

Rahul gandhi swearing in
Rahul Gandhi takes over Congress as the President in the AICC headquarters in New Delhi on Saturday, December 16Twitter

She recalled, "My hands were shaking when I read out my first speech. But I had a historical responsibility on my shoulders."

On Rahul rising to power in the party as a chief, the longest serving President of Congress, Ms Gandhi stressed that "I would not praise him," and she added that "personal attacks on him have made him stronger."

"We are a young country. We have a young leadership now. Rahul is my son and it will not be appropriate for me to praise him. But now that he is in politics, he has faced personal attacks which have further strengthened him. I have faith in his patience and grit," asserted the former party President.

Ms Gandhi hailed the efforts made by Congress under Manmohan Singh as the Prime Minister. Adding that they ran a pro-people government, she said, "In the first few years of my presidentship, we started as a responsible Opposition to save the constitutional values which we learned during the freedom struggle."

Sonia Gandhi added, "We later formed government led by Manmohan Singh Ji and for 10 years we ran a pro-people government."

"We introduced right to food, information, education and much more for poorest of poor Indians," she said.

Ms Gandhi also took a dig at the current government as she observed, "Since 2014 we have been playing the role of the Opposition, the challenge that we face today, is the biggest one, our constitutional values are being attacked, our party has also lost many elections but our party will never bow down."

She pointed out that country's foundation and shared traditions are under attack and there is an environment of fear.

Meanwhile many Congress leaders and former ministers including former Prime Minster Manmohan Singh, were a part of the swearing in ceremony of Rahul Gandhi.